Today, June 16th, is International Domestic Workers Day and the 3rd anniversary of the international adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention. Despite repeated promises, the Irish government has not yet ratified the Convention.
Domestic workers and trade unionists all over the world are taking action today to make rights for domestic workers a priority and to celebrate the vital services domestic workers provide in all communities: caring for the young and the old, the sick and the frail, and cleaning and caring for family homes.
In the meantime, au pairs, carers, childminders, cleaners and housekeepers in Ireland continue to experience exploitation and poor working conditions. MRCI's Domestic Workers Action Group (DWAG) believes the Government is failing the thousands of domestic workers in the State.
Reynelde Mahilum, a domestic worker and DWAG campaigner, said: "The Government are too slow, this is not good enough. We have been promised the Convention and we desperately need it, to protect us all from exploitation and abuse. We recognise that Ireland made good progress in terms of pushing the convention forward at EU level, but since then Minister Bruton has not moved to ratify it in Ireland."
Ms Mahilum continued, "There are thousands of domestic workers in Ireland. Working in a hidden and undervalued sector, they are vulnerable to exploitation, underpayment and denial of their basic rights. Recent cases have shown how young women working as au pairs are particularly vulnerable to abuse. If the Government truly believes that carers, cleaners, au pairs and housekeepers have rights, why won't they show that and sign this Convention? Justice delayed is justice denied; we need action."
Hilda Regaspi, Chair of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and DWAG member said "It is not just the ILO Convention we are waiting for; we are also waiting five years for much-needed measures from the Department of Foreign Affairs to protect vulnerable migrant domestic workers employed in embassies and diplomatic households - we've been told these standards are at drafting stage for the last two years and still no action. Meanwhile, diplomats and ambassadors have free reign to exploit and mistreat domestic workers. It is a disgrace."
MRCI Domestic Workers Action Group is 10 years old and comprised of over 300 domestic workers. For more information see http://www.mrci.ie/our-work/domestic/